Hydrogen-Producing Rooftop Solar Panels: The Future of Clean Energy - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Hydrogen-Producing Rooftop Solar Panels: The Future of Clean Energy

Here’s an article posted in PV Magazine.

According to the article,

Top management consulting experts for Bio-energy, EV, Solar, Green Hydrogen

  • Researchers at KU Leuven have developed hydrogen-producing rooftop solar panels that are nearing commercialization.
  • The panels are compatible with common PV mounting structures and use non-precious materials to keep costs affordable.
  • The researchers have tested several prototypes since the project launch in 2011 and are ready to launch industrial production of hydrogen panels.

Here we present more info about those panels :

The hydrogen-producing rooftop solar panels developed by researchers at KU Leuven utilize an innovative process to generate hydrogen gas from water vapor in the air using sunlight. Here’s a detailed explanation of the process:

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  1. Water Vapor Extraction: The panels incorporate a membrane system capable of extracting water vapor directly from the air. This membrane technology is designed to efficiently capture water molecules, even in relatively low-humidity environments. This aspect is crucial because it enables the panels to operate effectively in a wide range of climates, with only the driest regions being unsuitable.
  2. Solar Energy Conversion: The top layer of the solar panels is composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are capable of converting sunlight into electricity. These PV cells are similar to those used in traditional solar panels and are connected to the broader energy grid.
  3. Hydrogen Production: Beneath the PV layer, a network of tubes facilitates the conversion of the captured water vapor into hydrogen gas. This conversion process occurs through a series of chemical reactions, driven by the energy generated by the PV cells. Specifically, sunlight provides the energy needed to split water molecules (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) through a process called electrolysis.
  4. Efficiency: The efficiency of the hydrogen production process is reported to be around 15%. This means that for every unit of sunlight absorbed by the PV cells, approximately 15% of that energy is converted into hydrogen gas. This efficiency figure is important for assessing the overall viability and effectiveness of the panels in generating hydrogen.
  5. Output: The panels are capable of producing approximately 250 liters of hydrogen gas per day. This output level represents a significant amount of hydrogen production, especially when considering the decentralized nature of the panels.
  6. Modularity and Compatibility: The hydrogen panels are designed to be modular and compatible with existing PV modules. This compatibility allows for easy integration into both new and existing solar energy systems, leveraging ongoing developments and cost reductions in the PV industry.
  7. Safety and Storage: One notable feature of the hydrogen panels is their low-pressure operation and lack of onboard hydrogen storage. This design choice enhances safety and reduces costs associated with storage infrastructure. Instead, hydrogen gas produced by the panels is collected centrally and can be compressed for storage if needed. Hydrogen can be stored indefinitely in compressed form, providing flexibility in its use for various applications.
  8. Applications: The hydrogen gas produced by the panels has a wide range of potential applications, including backup power, logistics, heavy transport, energy provision in off-grid or remote areas, and even as a feedstock for ammonia production. This versatility makes the panels attractive for various sectors seeking clean energy solutions.
  9. Production and Commercialization: The Solhyd project has progressed from research to pilot production, with a dedicated production space established near Leuven, Belgium. Initial pilot projects will involve the production of a limited number of panels, with plans to scale up production to 5,000 panels per year by 2026. The researchers anticipate that the panels will become commercially available by 2026, with prices comparable to those of traditional PV modules.

Overall, the development of hydrogen-producing rooftop solar panels represents a promising advancement in renewable energy technology, offering a sustainable and versatile solution for hydrogen production using sunlight and water vapor from the air.

Interestingly, we have some other posts related to this content:

  1. Green Hydrogen Production Boosts by Solar Device: Hits 20% Efficiency
    • A new solar-radiation-concentrating device has surpassed 20% efficiency in hydrogen production, generating green hydrogen at over 2 kilowatts and usable heat at 70°C, potentially applicable in hospitals, electric vehicles, and residential heating.
  2. AI Solar Tech For Green Hydrogen – Lancaster and Heliogen
    • Researchers at KU Leuven have developed hydrogen-producing rooftop solar panels nearing commercialization.
  3. Southeast Asia’s First Solar-Hydrogen 5G Tower by Solarvest-Huawei-CENTEXS
    • Southeast Asia’s first 5G tower, powered by a solar-hydrogen microgrid testbed system, has been built by Solarvest, Huawei, and CENTEXS in Sarawak, aiming to advance the clean energy industry in Borneo.
  4. Solar-Powered Hydrogen Generation from Seawater: by IIT Madras
    • IIT Madras researchers have developed a solar-powered system to generate hydrogen from seawater, producing 100 liters per day, enough to power a small car for 100 km, using solar energy, seawater, and a catalyst.

About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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